As Comic Afterthoughts previously went back to the place Thanos was born, we now move to the moment he truly broke as a mainstream villain. It is here that we find the first group of miniseries and crossovers featuring "Infinity" in the name, leading to Marvel's current event. This moment is the arrival of first issue of The Infinity Gauntlet.
You may have seen the titular gauntlet briefly in the first Thor film, or perhaps in a number of video games and cartoons under the Marvel umbrella. Shining in gold (somehow a desirable material across the entire universe), the artifact is a glove with six slots for unique and powerful gems, worn by a would-be conqueror. The six gems that would adorn it represent mind, space, time, power, soul and reality. It was during a quest to find all of these jewels required, in an arc aptly titled "The Thanos Quest," that Thanos completed the gauntlet.
Hoping to satisfy on-and-off-again girlfriend Death, Thanos uses his new power to take out half of the beings in the universe (including X-Men members and the Fantastic Four). Led by Adam Warlock, the heroes left in the living world band together and set their sights on the man nicknamed "Mad Titan."
Thanos makes sport of our heroes, providing little hope for those pulling for the light side. He snatches up a couple Celestials, Galactus, Eternity and other godly Marvel characters, and continues to grow in power and madness. And this is where the cosmic side of Marvel can get weird, or even confusing. There's a certain hierarchy to all of these characters who fall under the "space gods" label (and you can check Marvel.com's Cosmic entry here for better reference). In short, you just need to know that Thanos was working his way up the power chain in the universe, the view of his pearly whites growing wider by the day.
The villain's power reaches a climax as he becomes the living embodiment of the universe, a turn in the story that you'd only find by Marvel. While he's in this new state, his alleged granddaughter, Nebula, is able to remove that pesky gauntlet. And she does.
Nebula undoes all of those nasty things Thanos did. But for some reason or another, a fight between the cosmic entities and our earthly heroes ensues (I mean, they were there anyway), and Warlock is able to take the gauntlet for himself. His possession of the glove goes up for debate in Lord of the Rings fashion, but in the end, it's destroyed and the gems are split between some heroes, who become a new group called The Infinity Watch.
What can we learn from this as we look forward to the Mad Titan's continued presence in Marvel books and films? Whether it's Death the character or death the concept, there's only one word that makes Thanos grin.
If the movies take any cues from this series, you can believe that Hollywood won't find the dozens of cosmic characters necessary. And I'd agree; I'm not even sure we needed so many in the comic incarnation.
Like the origin of Thanos, the meat and potatoes of The Infinity Gauntlet is what will translate to cinemas. Attempts have recently been made to make Thanos a sympathetic character, but his most frightening hour comes when he comes off as a persistent force of evil, without the Loki-like possibility of joining the good guys against an even greater force. He is that greater force, and is most effective when he has his boot against the chin of every hero in town. If our lesson during the previous segment was that he's a conqueror from his youth, the lesson from this portion of his life is his taste for blood only grew.
Will they include the gauntlet in upcoming films? That remains to be seen. Its cameo in one film suggests either a wink or an omen for the story of the Avengers. It's not a stretch, however, when you consider the Cosmic Cube playing the part of convincing artifact in Captain America and further installments. The fate of the gauntlet in the comics is just as ambiguous. The gems have reappeared occasionally since the end of the two follow-ups to The Infinity Gauntlet. It was eventually revealed that there is a seventh gem, for ego, that bonds all of them together into their original creator, the being Nemesis.
So check out the Infinity Gauntlet if you'd like to read more about the history of Thanos - or maybe you just need a refresher on the kind of hokeyness that came out of the '90s comic scene. It may not be exactly where things are headed for the films, but if Marvel continues to be faithful, it won't be too far off.
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